For the uninitiated, here’s an overview. Most little girls have owned at least one or two Breyer horses, loved them and played with them, broken their delicate legs, scuffed their lovely paint, and slowly given them up in favor of makeup and boys.
But not all of us do that. Some of us carry that love of model horses beyond puberty. We find that there are others like us all over the world. (Thank you, internet!) We begin thinking of our models in terms of acronyms:
- OF = Original finish (still bearing the paint job from the Breyer factory).
- CM = Customized (a plastic horse that has been repainted and/or repositioned).
- PSQ = Photo show quality (I can’t think of a non-model-horse way to explain this. So click here to learn about photo shows.)
- LSQ = Live show quality.
It’s that last one, LSQ, that was the topic of the weekend. A live model horse show is not like comic-con. It is not a convention (although, yeah, there are conventions). It is almost like a real horse show, except it happens indoors, on tables, and on a much smaller scale.
I had the very distinct honor of judging all of the performance classes at this particular show. My main task was to hold in all my exclamations of “Pretty horsey!!” and take my job seriously.
So, for instance, in the dressage class, we had three entrants. An entry would generally consist of a model horse in tack (with or without a rider doll), a piece of arena fencing showing a letter, and a note card explaining what level and what movement the scene was supposed to be showing. I had to judge on a variety of criteria to place the horses. The tricky thing about being a model horse judge is that you have to understand both worlds, because you are judging as if it were the same class in a REAL horse show in addition to judging the models for workmanship. You need to know whether or not martingales are allowed in training level dressage. You need to know which lead the model is on. You need to be able to decide if the position of the model is an accurate reflection of the movement. Then you need to decide if that horse, if it were real, would score higher in a real event than the others in the class.
Insane, I know.
Because I am much more in the REAL horse world right now than I am in MODEL horse world, I was very picky about tack being placed correctly for real life riding. For instance, there was a really excellent, graceful entry in the dressage class. The model was absolutely appropriate for the test and level she was supposed to be depicting. The tack was the most realistic miniature English saddle I had ever seen. It was better made than many REAL saddles. Unfortunately, the owner had placed the bridle so that the bit couldn't possibly be in the horse's mouth, so I had to put her at the bottom of the placings. It really does come down to nitpicky stuff like that when all other things are equal.
Back in the day (high school and college particularly), I used model horses as an outlet for the part of me that wanted to buy every animal on Dreamhorse. If I couldn't own the real thing, I'd just paint a model to look like it. I probably customized hundreds. Somewhere, I still have a mountain of photos of models I painted back in the day. Small sample:
And some more show photos from Shana and Bethany:
|Super detailed western entry. He won several classes.|
|This was "other performance," I believe. That reddish horse in the middle is the giant puppet from the stage version of War Horse. There are two dolls inside it working the levers—it should have won on cleverness alone!|
|Entrants make final adjustments while I prepare to judge.|
|Cool native costume had real mink fur!|
|So many pretties!|
|Reserve performance champion, me, and performance champion...|
|Gaming entries. Notice the note cards with each horse so I know what the game is supposed to be!|
|Native costume class. It was really, really hard to choose! The beadwork on some of these was mind-blowing.|
|This was an entry for "natural trail." Everything about it was perfect... except for the fact that I have never met anyone who liked to trail ride in their best show clothes!|
I hope Shana puts this on again next year. I might even bring a few of my old beauties and see how they stack up!